Health

Gaining weight adversely affects aging

Published 8.12.2017
Does this result surprise anyone? Apart from HAE$ believers that is— please note, I blatantly stole the idea of replacing the S with a $ from CarbSane, the blogger at the Carb-Sane Asylum. I never really thought of Health at Every Size (HAES) as a money making enterprise, rather I saw them more of a shared group delusion. However, the more I think about its high priestess, Linda Bacon, and how she’s altered what HAES means and the movement’s direction, I think CarbSane has a point. Further note: I realize that the woman who blogs as CarbSane has put her real name out there, however, most often she continues to use CarbSane. Ergo, I use that monicker rather than her actual name.

Putting on weight slowly over a long period of time also affects health. It isn’t the rate of gain, it’s the affect of the additional stress on the ever again body. I would hazard to guess that most people gain weight slowly, certainly that’s what I did. Weight that’s added slowly over 20 years usually can’t be lost quickly and maintained— and maintenance in the end is what matters.

From early adulthood to age 55, U.S. women in the study gained an average of 27.8 lbs, and men gained an average of 21.4 lbs, reported Frank Hu, MD, PhD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues.

A gain of as little as 11 lbs during that time was associated with significantly increased risk for major chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Weight gain during adulthood was also associated with increased mortality risk, they wrote in JAMA.

I also would hazard a guess that most people put on much more than 11 pounds in 2 decades. Slow weight gain can be particularly insidious, because the body adapts to the new higher weight (set point) much more firmly than sudden rapid weight gain (which I also realize can happen). Still, set points can be reset, if new habits are adopted and maintained forever. That’s why extreme or fad diets don’t result in long term weight loss, because they can’t be adhered to.

In addition, each gain of 5 kg was associated with a 17% decrease in the odds of healthy aging (IRR 0.83, 95% CI 0.77-0.89), a composite outcome defined as no self-reported physical limitations, cognitive decline, or history of diseases including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson disease, and multiple sclerosis.